By: Zhao Da Yuan
Practical Chin Na
A Detailed Analysis of the Art of Seizing and Locking
by Zhao Da Yuan
translated by Tim Cartmell
(Unique Publications, 1993, 210 pages)
Review by Christopher Dow
I hope eventually to review other books on chin na, the art of seizing and locking, but I don’t see how any of them could be better than Practical Chin Na: A Detailed Analysis of the Art of Seizing and Locking, even if they are just as good. The subtitle of the book says it all.
After a four-page introduction to this art, which can complement any martial art, Zhao dives right in with several chapters that lay out basic principles of chin na, and include an overview of the human skeletal structure, posture, and of the different ways that joints can move—and be pinioned. This is no gloss of the material, but highly detailed and well illustrated.
These chapters are followed by a chapter titled, “The Mechanics of Chin Na,” which discusses the physical parameters laid out in the previous chapters in relation to basic principles of physics. These explanations are accompanied by numerous helpful illustrations
Then it’s on to chapters on actual chin na techniques, each concentrating on different limbs or areas of the body. These chapters, which are essentially an encyclopedia of chin na techniques, occupy about 150 pages, and include additional detailed illustrations as well as numerous photographs. Some of the photos will make you wince and be glad you’re looking at an image instead of being twisted like a pretzel.
I’ve said elsewhere that it would be practically impossible to learn a Tai Chi form from a book, and that may be the case. But you and a partner sure could learn chin na from this book. Just be careful and remember what one Tai Chi expert said: “Don’t hurt your partner, or he won’t want to play with you anymore.”